Transitional justice seems abstract. An official document from the Ministry of Defence, shown to me by a friend, Chou Shun-chi, will give a more concrete idea.
In 1963, the popularity of the Youth Awareness Movement was surging to the point of threatening the standing of the KMT’s China Youth Corps, as approximately 20 colleges and senior high schools participated in the movement. As a result, the KMT persecuted its leaders and accused them of armed rebellion. A co-funder, Hsu Shi-tu, had a mental breakdown after torture and is still in the Yuli Hospital Psychiatric Ward. Other victims were only 18 at the time and sentenced to life imprisonment. Minster of Defence formally enquired if Hsu’s sentence could be reduced. Chiang Kai-shek’s response was ‘This level of rebellion should be punished by law. The main culprit, Hsu Shi-tu, should continue to face trial and be sentenced to death regardless of his mental state.’ Hsu’s sentence has never been served, as he has spent the past 48 years in a mental health unit. Others were imprisoned and had their lives ruined. This is the outrageous truth from the Martial Law era. The Taiwanese society cannot truly reconcile without implementing measures for transitional justice.